Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says there is a lot of pressure to introduce further restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the province. But implementing measures like a lockdown isn’t the way he wants to go.
While appearing on the Danielle Smith Show on 770 CHQR on Monday morning, Kenney said that while he cannot exclude the possibility of introducing new restrictions, the best way to go forward is to have Albertans exercise “personal responsibility.”
“I cannot exclude the possibility that, in the future, if things get really out of control, that we may have to introduce narrowly targeted measures to limit the spread,” he said.
“But our strong preference is to trust people to exercise personal responsibility.”
Alberta has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks — particularly in the Edmonton zone. On Friday, there were 2,836 active cases. Of those, 1,525 — or more than half — were in the Edmonton zone.
The numbers that concern Kenney more, however, are the death toll and the increase of people hospitalized or in intensive care units with COVID-19.
On Friday, there were 117 people in the hospital due to the novel coronavirus, with 11 of those in the ICU.
“We need to learn to live with COVID,” Kenney said.
“It’s going to continue to spread throughout our population until there is an effective vaccine and we don’t know when that will be.”
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, has said one of the reasons the number of hospitalizations has increased so much is because of the number of outbreaks in hospitals across the province.
As of Friday afternoon, there were 70 outbreaks listed by Alberta Health. Four of those outbreaks were in hospitals.
As for the death toll, 288 Albertans have died due to COVID-19 as of Friday afternoon.
Kenney’s comments about the possibility of further restrictions is a sharp change from comments at the beginning of September. At the time, active case numbers were returning to numbers not seen in Alberta since May.
When asked about it on Sept. 9, Kenney shot down the idea of further restrictions.
“Alberta’s belief is we’re not going to micromanage our way out of this. We’re only going to get through this if people exercise personal responsibility, and that’s what we call on Albertans to do,” Kenney said.
“We want to do everything we possibly can to avoid jerking around people — indiscriminately shutting down their businesses, their jobs and their livelihoods.”
The comments were echoed by Hinshaw who said at the time the evidence showed transmission is happening in social settings, not in businesses, so formal public health measures were not likely.
Voluntary health measures for the Edmonton zone were introduced on Oct. 8 in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 in that region.
Albertans living in that zone were asked to reduce private gatherings to no more than 15 people, be part of only three cohorts, and wear masks inside all businesses where distancing isn’t possible.
Hinshaw said it takes one to two weeks between action and results, so she said the data should start to show this week whether those measures succeeded in slowing the spread.
— With a file from Allison Bench, Global NewsView link »